The obsession among the people today in taking self shots in unnatural postures that the human arm is not designed to handle, is landing them in a great deal of pain. The 'selfie elbow', as it is called, comes next after conditions like 'texting thumb' and 'text neck'.
The condition came to light after NBC journalist Hoda Koth developed a pain in her elbow. When she contacted her orthopedist, it turned out that the pain was due to her habit of taking a lot of self shots. Koth's Instagram feed has a plenty of celebrity selfies alongside photos of her with family and fans. And this love for selfies landed her with severe pain in the elbow.
‘Selfie shots can give you ‘ouchies’ if not restricted in time. Many youngsters today are brought to consult orthopaedists with a painful, swollen elbow, which are commonly seen among sportspersons, but now are associated with taking self shots.’
Doctors say that 'selfie elbow' is much like tennis elbow - a kind of tendinitis - more common in people related to sports. "The repeated movement of the elbow in extreme posture while taking selfies causes ache in the elbow," says Dr Kamal Bachani, senior consultant, Orthopaedics, Vimhans PrimaMed Super Speciality hospital, New Delhi. "You keep the elbow straight or slightly bent in a forceful manner. And you continue to do so until you capture the image of your choice. This leads to abnormal strain on the tendons and ligaments of the elbow, which further leads to inflammation and acute or chronic pain in the elbow," added Dr Bachani.
Taking selfies involves an unusual arm position and repeating the act could be injurious, cautioned orthopedist Rajeev Chatterjee from kolkata. "A growing number of youngsters are being afflicted with the condition. Since taking selfies is a new fad, the number of patients will rise," he added. While frequent gaming, chatting or texting on the mobile can lead to similar condition, selfies could hasten the injury since it involves raising the arm, said experts.
For many youngsters like Poushali Ray, Class XII student and banker Debraj Sen from Kolkata, clicking 25 to 40 selfies a day had become part of their lifestyle. But this was only until they couldn't move their arms froze in the middle of selfie sessions. On consulting orthopedists, they were told to rest, stop taking selfies and put on anti- inflammatory drugs.
Keeping your arms raised for long periods to click selfies puts your elbow muscles under severe strain. Repeating the same action eventually makes the elbow muscles swell and puts stress on the bone, leading to inflammation and excruciating pain, say doctors. Experts warn that overuse of the fingers and thumbs can cause osteo-arthritis as the cartilage degenerates between the joints. The tech driven injuries or pain due to the repetitive nature of the tasks have become more common nowadays. Just like sitting for long hours in the same position can land you with back ache, overuse of your joints while texting, typing and taking selfies is going to give you aches as well.
It's easy to treat the 'selfie elbow' condition with some ice, rest and anti-inflammation pills. In fact, there are a number of exercises and stretches that help prevent your muscles from strain caused by the tech related activities. Regular shoulder and wrist rolls can be done anytime to relax the muscles. Conscious effort is needed to take one's mind off the obsession with taking selfies. It may cause a little discomfort initially but one need's to apply a little mindfulness here. Deep breathing and visualization techniques can also help.